Queensryche proves yet again that they are still one of metal’s greatest bands with another powerful performance.
28-Aug-2016: Wow! Has it really been a four years since former Crimson Glory vocalist Todd La Torre joined Queensryche? Time flys when you’re having fun; party for the course for the band these days. La Torre has rejuvenated the band since taking over vocal duties from original vocalist Geoff Tate.
This tour sees Queensryche celebrating the band’s second album with La Torre, Condition Human, along with some of the Queensryche classics from the earlier years that we all have grown to know and love.
The O2 Academy Islington has an intimate atmosphere with a relatively small stage and the audience are pretty close to the band. The anticipation and the energy can be felt right from the start as Queensryche open their set with “Guardian” from their latest album.
The band tonight are generally wearing dark clothing, drummer Scott Rockenfield wearing comfortable bottoms, tank top and trademark head bandana and shades and guitarist Parker Lundgren a sleeveless jacket over a black tee shirt. Lead guitarist Michael ‘Whip’ Wilton also sports a sleeveless PVC jacket over a dark top and trademark chunky waist chain attached to black trousers. Bassist Eddie Jackson is wearing a dressier short sleeved shirt with black trousers and vocalist La Torre again all in black leather/PVC jacket and trousers.
The energy is frantic and there is no time to allow the crowd to catch a breath with the classic “Operation Mindcrime” following straight after.
Tonight’s show contains songs from Queensryche’s first EP up to the Promised Land album from 1994, and most agree that the song “Damaged” from the latter is a welcome addition to the set. With Jackson’s pounding rhythms in unison with Rockenfield’s drumming, the sound was immense.
La Torre asks the crowd to sing along to “The Killing Words” demonstrating why he is the perfect replacement for Tate. His powerhouse vocals are almost flawless as he sings “It’s over… Over.”
La Torre can hit the low registers then soar high in an instant without any hint of a strain. This also showcases how well Wilton and Lundgren compliment each other on guitar as it does throughout the night with both guitarists effortlessly weaving in and out together it was sometimes difficult to tell who was leading.
The set continues with the haunting “The Mission” from their 1988 album Operation Mindcrime. La Torre asks the London audience if they are having a good time and informs them that they were going to slow things down a little bit. No surprise that the gentle lullaby opening of “Silent Lucidity” has the crowd cheering and watching in awe. The lighting takes effect, focussing in on La Torre, the audience singing along to every word with La Torre orchestrating. It is the most intimate, enchanting part of the night.
The Empire album theme continues with the title track from the album, demonstrating how tight the band are and how commanding Rockenfield is behind his kit. Many of the crowd bounce around in rhythm singing along.
Another song from their latest album “Eye 9,” sees some of the crowd heading to the bar or toilet which is a shame as this is a great track performed live. This is a strong track for Jackson and Rockenfield in the rhythm section as the latter showcases some intricate drum work, changing styles often with Jackson’s bass prominent. It also sees some of the classic Queensryche dual guitar playing which Wilton and Lundgren perform faultlessly.
La Torre thanks the audience for the great turnout, being both a Sunday and an English Bank Holiday before we are treated to a thunderous energetic version of fan favourite “Queen of the Reich.” This is the main test for La Torre, which he passes with flying colours as again his vocals are near faultless with no strain on the longer, higher vocal ranges. There was also some great use of vocal reverb in places.
One couldn’t help noticing one of the female bar staff dancing around and moving her head in rhythm to the anthemic “Jet City Woman,” which also has some monster drumming from Rockenfield. Queensryche end their main set with a huge roar of approval as La Torre tells the crowd, “Here is something from The Warning,” before launching into “Take Hold of the Flame.” This is another lung-bursting test for La Torre who again makes every note seem effortless.
A short break sees the band return for an encore with a vocal audience as the band tear into “Screaming in Digital,” which La Torre rips up effortlessly. The familiar backing track “Dr. David, telephone please. Dr. Blair, Dr. Blair…” results in a huge roar erupting from the London venue as the band end the night with the well established “Eyes of a Stranger” from their Operation Mindcrime album. Everyone in the room sings along with La Torre for a fitting end the night.
Queensryche never ceases to amaze when performing live and tonight is no exception. The band performed a lot of fan favourites in their 80-minute set and threw in two newer tracks from latest album, Condition Human.
Queensryche are one of the most professional bands you will see in music today and are dedicated to their fans. With La Torre at the helm, the band is rejuvenated and fresh. The new lease of life oozes out of every band member of which, hopefully, we will see for many years to come.